Above: A hiker on the PNT in the Kettles. Photo by Tyler Yates.
Kettle River Range, Section 4
Wide open spaces, rolling grasslands, and rugged mountain ranges characterize the Pacific Northwest Trail in the Kettle River Range. Species suited for life in a dryer climate, like ponderosa pine and bighorn sheep, thrive in the Kettles. These remote landscapes offer quiet, star-filled nights and perhaps the best opportunity to spot a gray wolf–or hear its lonesome howl–of the entire trail corridor. Afterall, Eastern Washington is home to the largest population of gray wolves in the state.
Loved by cyclists and hikers alike, the Kettle Crest National Recreation Trail, east of the trail town of Republic, Washington, is a popular destination in Section 4. But hidden treasures, like the Grand Canyon of the Sanpoil, have remained virtually undiscovered by outdoor enthusiasts.
This region was transformed by a gold rush at the turn of the century, and old homesteads and prospectors’ cabins remain as traces of the area’s mining heritage. The historic main streets of the trailside community of Republic, Washington speak to this bygone era, and still retain an early 1900s look and feel.
Northport, Washington to Sweat Creek
121 mi (195 km)
Highest Point: 7,140’
Elevation Gain/ Loss: +13,270’ / -10,220’
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Proper food storage for black bear habitat is required
- Fire Restrictions on the Okanongan NF prohibit alcohol and twig burning stoves and most campfires
- Temporary Fire Restrictions may prohibit campfires or certain camp stoves; check before you go
- Rare wildlife: gray wolves, lynx
- The mighty Columbia River
- Kettle Crest National Recreation Trail
- Copper Butte
- Sherman Peak
- Grand Canyon of the Sanpoil
- Snow Peak Cabin
The PNT travels through some of our wildest public lands. These special places are home to animals iconic of wilderness, and species found nowhere else. By following the regulations of our National Parks and National Forests, you can help keep wildlife wild and the backcountry safe on the PNT.
Getting to and from the Pacific Northwest Trail is part of the adventure – America’s wildest National Scenic trail is located in some of the most remote mountain ranges of the Northwest and logistics are part of the challenge.
A visit to the undiscovered communities of the Northwest is a fun part of any trip on the PNT. From rugged mountain towns, to historic seaside cities, the diverse communities visited by the trail provide a peek into the lifestyles unique to the Northwest.
The weather and climate across the trail corridor can vary greatly by geographic area, elevation, and season. The major mountain ranges of the PNT create rain shadows. This effect creates drier and warmer east sides, that can approach desert-like climates, and much cooler and wetter west sides that include rain forests.
“Against the Grain” is the unofficial slogan of the PNT, with good reason. This rugged, 1,200 mile route climbs over seven mountain ranges and it presents some unique challenges along the way. For those uncomfortable with hazardous situations, there are many trails on the PNT that are accessible to a wide range of visitors.
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through many different public and private lands. You can help to protect our natural resources, and the quality of the experience. Respect private property and learn the regulations of the area you are visiting.
Today, the PNT offers an experience that may be more challenging and rugged than it will be a generation from now. Until then, making the effort to be fully prepared for an adventure on the PNT is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip.